Here in the Silicon Valley, there has been a bunch of new things happening that is moving us closer and closer to being more fanatical about the real-time. I suppose it probably was inevitable that we wanted our information to be at our fingertips in a moments notice. Some of the latest news was broken by “citizen journalists” like the @breakingnews Twitter account which provided snippets of news in a flash from around the world – whether it’s Michael Jackson’s death or the tsunami disaster in Asia, etc. The point here is that we’re all about finding out the latest information…it’s like we want to constantly hit the refresh button on our browser just to see if there’s some new information – and perfectly valid if we know someone affected by disaster, issue or news, but for the bystanders, we’re afixed to our mobile handsets, laptops, iPads just itching to find out the latest news.
Media and other news publications have always been like this. It only seems natural for the rest of the world to catch up to this…we’ve moved into a state where we not only expect things to be fed to us online in real-time, but demand it. No more waiting. Sites like Twitter and Facebook are starting to roll with it and come out with new features that basically gives you a rolling feed of what your friends are doing so you don’t have to constantly hit the refresh button. In fact, there have been multiple conferences hosted by the tech blog TechCrunch on the issue of the real-time feed and more startups emerging out of the Valley are devoting resources to publishing information practically in real-time (or as close as they can get it).
However, if a business is interested in posting a bit of news, they might want to find a way to aggregate that news in some real-time mechanism, yes? Chances are that when you’re announcing something new, you might be posting it out via a press release or perhaps through a blog of some sort. If you’re doing it through a blog and then you want everyone to notice it, you’ll probably want to blast it through Twitter and post it on Facebook. But how will you know what people’s reactions are? You can scour through Google to find out what you want to do, but another way would be to manage it all through your blog.
Wait, manage it through your blog? How does that work?
If your company has a blog, then I would use that as ground zero for your news release. That way, people can easily link back to it, leave comments and share it with their friends and audience. Plus, it’s associated with your brand so people can scour through the rest of your blog for information and maybe even learn more about your company. Once you’ve done this, you might then want to find a way to monitor what’s being said and have it show up on that particular blog post. Of course you can use a great social media monitoring tool like Radian6, ScoutLabs, Attensity or maybe go a bit more low-tech and just see what Google Alerts spits out every few hours to you. OR, you can monitor the conversation in real-time through the Echo platform.
If you think that Echo is just another commenting platform system, then you have the wrong idea about it – just like I did when I first heard about the platform. Sure, once installed, people can leave comments on your blog post, but what it does do is literally aggregates anything in the social web that talks about that particular post or bit of news in real-time. That’s right…if someone writes a reaction to your news or tweets about it, it’ll be shared on the Echo platform right away. For businesses, this is really great news since you want to see who is talking about you or that particular post, then you’ll get it right away…sure, you’ll be on the alert wanting to see if the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNET, Washington Post, Mashable, TechCrunch, Time magazine, LA Weekly or any of the countless publications out there within your industry cover you – but if there’s something online that talks about you, it looks like Echo’s system will sniff it out and link to it.
Just take a look at how your business can leverage the Echo system. To the left is a screenshot of the Echo platform at work. As you can see, there is normal thread commenting happening here just like you would expect with a normal commenting system on platforms like WordPress, TypePad or Blogger. But below that, you’ll see links that reference this particular story and how other people are talking about this story, usually through re-tweeting, sharing or reposting of stories on other social networks.
And while a lot of sites are using more social commenting platforms like Disqus, Echo isn’t to be counted out. In fact, over the past year, they’ve scored some new significant customers, including AMC, the Washington Post, Slate, Newsweek, Discovery, CNET and many others.
I know what you might be asking…how is it going to be different from Disqus? In looking back at the two, I start to see a clear difference between Echo and Disqus:
First of all, Disqus focuses on bringing in commenting from across the various networks it’s integrated with. If you want to comment on John Doe’s blog, the comment you made becomes more portable. It’s a commenting social network built into the Cloud. Sure, you get the ping and trackbacks and even other people’s reaction, but unfortunately, right now, the system seems to be focused on just monitoring comments.
In Echo’s case, they appear to have taken the Disqus model and just expanded it to be more inclusive of reactions, feedback and everything that is happening in your blog’s social graph – yes, that does sound a bit weird, but it basically aggregates what is being said about YOUR product and news…and for a business, that’s an important thing. Plus it’s in real-time…no waiting. I’ve found that Disqus takes a bit of time to post the trackbacks.
Disqus is obviously a free platform for most users. This is very different from Echo where you have to install software and pay to use it. There is a free trial, but it only lasts for 30 days. The beginning plan for Echo is $10/month and this applies to bloggers and even to small businesses. For that amount, you’ll get some pretty cool features, albeit some seem to be pretty standard. You can view their feature list here.
So real-time news is apparently a big hit…everyone wants to find out what’s happening NOW. No more waiting…
Will real-time feeds and services like Echo make you want to change the way your business does things? If you’re already invested in real-time services, how has this affected you?
Photo Credit: Life123Google+